Oskar and the Screaming Drum, Or A Tiny History of Violence

When and Where

Friday, April 21, 2023 7:30 pm to Sunday, April 23, 2023 4:30 pm
Helen Gardiner Phelan Playhouse
79 St. George Street, Toronto, Ontario, M5S 2E5


Oskar and the Screaming Drum, Or A Tiny History of Violence is the combination of documentary theatre and literary adaptation loosely based on Nobel-winning German writer Günter Grass’ novel, The Tin Drum. The novel’s protagonist, Oskar, the child of a German father and a Polish mother, receives a tin drum on his third birthday and refuses to grow up ever after. Drumming his way through World War II, Oskar witnesses the ways in which fascism changes their city and family, and explores artistic means of intervention.

Inside the skin of the borrowed story of The Tin Drum, however, there is another subterranean storyline that resonates with the contemporary repercussions of the Global War on Terror in everyday life from a Chinese perspective, raising questions about the relationships between security and terror, technology and freedom, centre and periphery, and the iterative, violent distinctions constructed between an “us” and a “them.” This half-hidden story—presented through documentary episodes—may echo or interrupt the fictional world of The Tin Drum, or may be completely irrelevant (or at least apparently so). In the meeting between these two worlds, and between artistic media, we attempt to ask: What do we trade with power for protection? Who are we being protected from? How might we live a good life in the age of surveillance, spectacle, and war?

Starring a child mannequin and actors in non-traditional casting, this production explores new possibilities for identity visibility and experiments with aesthetics in intercultural and intermedial theatre.


The performance is approximately 100 minutes in duration without an intermission. 

A talkback/panel with invited guest speakers, on topics relating to documentary theatre and intercultural/intermedial translations/conversations will take place after the Sunday matinee. You are welcome to join the discussion regardless of which performance you’ve attended. Refreshments will be provided. 

Show dates and times:

Fri. April 21, 2023. 7:30 PM
Sat. April 22, 2023. 7:30 PM
Sun. April 23, 2023. 2:30 PM + talkback/panel with guest speakers 4:30 PM

This is a free event with limited seating. Reserve your ticket here

Read the show program. 

Talkback/Panel Guest Speaker: Joerg Esleben

Joerg Esleben is Associate Professor in the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures at the University of Ottawa. He teaches German language and culture as well as intercultural and transcultural studies. He has researched the works of Georg Forster, travel writing, the Faust theme, and intercultural theatre projects between Germany and India. His publications include the co-edited book Mapping Channels between Ganges and Rhein (2008), articles and book chapters on the above topics, and the book Fritz Bennewitz in India: Intercultural Theatre with Brecht and Shakespeare (University of Toronto Press, 2016). He is currently engaged in a large-scale project on creative appropriations of Brecht’s work in Canada, the results of which can be consulted at https://biblio.uottawa.ca/omeka1/brecht-canada/


Written by Yi Zhou (she/her) 
Directed by Yi Zhou and Myrto Koumarianos (she/her, they/them) 
Dramaturgical Consultants: Myrto Koumarianos, Siting Yang (she/her) 
Production and Stage Manager: Q** (he/him) 
Assistant Stage Managers: L.Z. (she/her), X.X. (he/him) 
Set and Light Designer: Evan Moritz (he/him) 
Projection Designer: Noel Pendawa (he/him) 
Sound Designer: Devlin Flynn (he/him, they/them) 
Costume and Prop Designer: Lindsey Griffith (she/her) 
Puppetry Consultants: Amelia Blaine (they/them), Devlin Flynn 
CDTPS Manager of Theatre Operations: Ariel Martin-Smith 
CDTPS Technical Director: Adrien Whan 


Katelyn Doyle (she/her) as Puppeteer 
Monica Kopec (she/her) as Oskar’s Voice 
Siena-heesoo Jang (she/her) as PAPA 
Micah Chu (he/him, they/them) as DADA 
Bebe Leung (she/her) as MAMA 
Tofu Mitchell (they/them) as Bebra 
Hannah Mitchell (she/her) as X, Female Guest, Schoolchild, Civilian, Judge, Marxist student A, the Duster gangster, etc.  
Madeleine Thompson (she/her) as Y, Male Guest, Security, Inspector, Marxist student B, the Duster gangster, etc.  
Lindsey Griffith (she/her) as Z, Schoolmaster, Prosecutor, Marxist student leader, the Duster gang leader, etc. 


  • Centre for Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies, University of Toronto
  • SGS Sponsorship Fund, School of Graduate Studies, University of Toronto 
  • Student Initiative Fund, Division of Student Life, University of Toronto
  • Department of Germanic Languages & Literatures, University of Toronto
  • Centre for Comparative Literature, University of Toronto

The Helen Gardiner Phelan Playhouse (Second Floor, UC Union Building) is currently only accessible by stairs as the elevator is being repaired. If you have any questions, please contact dramacentrecommunications.cdtps@utoronto.ca. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.


79 St. George Street, Toronto, Ontario, M5S 2E5